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Posted by on Oct 31, 2016 | 0 comments

All the Company of Heaven: Praying to the Saints

All the Company of Heaven: Praying to the Saints

“You know,” I said to my friend, “I’m not sure that prayers to the saints are such a bad thing.” My friend looked at me with a troubled expression. “What do you mean?” “Well, the saints are our fellow Christians. I can ask you, or other Christian friends, for prayer, so I don’t see why it’s necessarily wrong to ask those who’ve gone to be with Christ for prayer in the same way.” “But that’s different. I’m alive. They’re dead.” There was no delay in my friend’s response. There never is. You see, I’ve had the above conversation many times, and while it doesn’t always go down this road, it often does. The saints, those Christians who have gone before us, those whom the Christian tradition has called the Church Triumphant—they’re dead. Gone. Out of the picture. The ease with which so many of us move to thinking of the Church Triumphant as simply dead, and so utterly separated from us, is deeply disturbing. It makes our material reality...

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Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 | 11 comments

C.S. Lewis, Roman Catholicism, and Bad Apologetics

C.S. Lewis, Roman Catholicism, and Bad Apologetics

After giving his talk, the venerable old Dominican friar came and sat near me, sipped his beer, and began to ask me questions about myself. Before long, it became clear to him that I was not Catholic but Anglican. As seems almost inevitable among intelligent Catholics, the discovery that I am an intelligent Protestant with high church leanings led to the question, “But why aren’t you Catholic?” Among some (my girlfriend on our first date, for example) this is a genuine question. For others, it’s more a reaction of incredulity—it seems that some believe that any intelligent thinking person will through a process of simple syllogistic logic arrive at an understanding of the superiority of Catholicism and convert. Which brings us to C.S. Lewis, because the venerable old Dominican brought him up as an admirable Christian thinker. And, reflecting the attitude I experience towards myself, he expressed his puzzlement at how such a great thinker (certainly greater than I am, I hasten to add) could have remained Protestant. The...

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Posted by on May 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Sabbath and the End of Work

Sabbath and the End of Work

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I was a child and was asked this question, I said I wanted to be a missionary astronaut. In one sense that’s a very fantastical response, but in another it’s very ordinary—I was asked what I wanted to be and my response, as with most children conditioned by our society, was to give a job description. When I eventually became an adult and was studying theology at school, I was inevitably asked “What are you going to do with that?” Again, the expected answer was a job. And now that I’m in the adult world? When I meet new people the inevitable first question people ask is, “What do you do (for a living)?” Human beings are creatures of work, we’ve always been so. So, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the fact that much of our identity can be tied up with what we do. Yet, there is a danger in this close identification, and it’s a danger...

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Posted by on Dec 30, 2015 | 0 comments

#Blacklivesmatter: What does Christmas say about our nation?

#Blacklivesmatter: What does Christmas say about our nation?

It is the sixth day of Christmas as I write this post—the sixth day of a holiday that celebrates the truth that our God came to be one of us, to shine as a light in an evil world in order to save that world. This story raises our minds to the goodness of the transcendent God while simultaneously calling us to look at the realities of our world. For us today, on the verge of 2016, that reality includes a year filled with increased upheavals around racial injustice and a backlash against those upheavals manifest in such evils as police brutality and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. In light of these upheavals, and in the face of Jesus coming as savior to rescue us from evil, it is incumbent upon those who claim Orthodox Christian faith to take a step back and look at the justice of the American system. Before we look at that system, however, it’s worthwhile to take a moment to think about what...

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Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 | 0 comments

How Can Christian Academia be Christian?

How Can Christian Academia be Christian?

I want today to explore further the question Lance raised earlier this week—“What is the task of [academic] theology in the Church?” The relationship between Christianity and academia is a strange one. Most of Western academia has its roots within the Church. Much of it is also hostile to the Church, and a lot of Western Christianity’s most vibrant sectors are marked by a streak of anti-intellectualism. It should be no surprise, writing as I do for a site devoted to theology and philosophy and possessing a masters degree, that I vehemently disagree both with Christian anti-intellectualism and with its counterpart that thinks there’s something inherently intellectually suspect about Christianity. At the same time, I do believe there is a real tension, and it’s something that the Christian academy needs to think hard about addressing. The tension does not lie along the spectrum of intellectual vs. anti-intellectual, but stands instead between academia’s tendency towards elitism and Christian theology’s inherent populism.[1] Lance hinted at this tension in his post. As he pointed out, academic theology...

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